Category Archives: copyright

Writing and copyright links (#SFWApro)

I’d planned something deeper, but I’m too zonked.

•The Supreme Court OKs a patent on cheerleader uniforms. The majority says it’s just about the decorative parts of the uniform; the dissenters say the ruling still goes too far.

•Wicked Cozy Authors on what drives readers away from a series (here’s my own thoughts on the same topic).

•Vulture on why Netflix should have given us an Asian-American Iron Fist rather than a white guy. Matt Foster looks at the general weakness of Iron Fist (I’ve only seen one episode so far, but it didn’t impress me). Atomic Junk Shop argues that keeping the Bronze Age origin and race is part of respecting the source material — but I can’t see that “white guy” is an essential part of the character. And the first episode isn’t respectful at all (hey, let’s turn the story of a martial-arts super hero into a dull soap opera!).

•Justina Ireland argues it’s a mistake to make up oppressed races in a fantasy world rather than tie the setting to real-world discrimination. And that redeeming racists is a plotline that’s geared strictly to white audiences. I haven’t had time to think whether I agree with her, but they’re interesting enough to link to.

•Robert Nielsen looks at cultural appropriation and the Irish — the use of Celtic symbols by white supremacists and “Plastic paddies” who move to Ireland and go native.

•Jim C. Hines has completed his annual survey of novelist incomes.

•The great comics artist Berni Wrightson (cover by Wrightson, all rights to current holder) died this week.

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Fandom, sexism and other writing-related links (#SFWApro)

Foz Meadows looks at the assumption talking about race and representation in YA is, itself, racist. After all, you’re talking about how many black or women or gay characters are in fiction, so obviously you’re not seeing them as people, just diversity hires (so to speak), right? No, as detailed at the link.

•No, comics are not innately a man’s world. Women were involved in comic strips and comic books even before second-wave feminism started.

•SF and comics are not the only creative field with a history of sexism.

•Atomic Junk Shop looks at the roots of sexism in comics fandom (I’ve linked to this before, I know, but it seemed to fit in two different posts).

•Freelancer Renae deLiz had a big hit with Legend of Wonder Woman but her relationship with DC has been less than amicable. Heidi McDonald looks at the history (which includes some crowdfunded projects that did not deliver as planned) and the tricky questions of freelancer vs. corporation.

•Need images? The Metropolitan Museum of Art has them online for free.

•Fake news as a tool for promoting a movie?

•Duke’s Center for the Public Domain puts out a comic-book explaining fair use.

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Copyright and other writing-related links (#SFWApro)

Here’s one for copyright nerds: a lawsuit over whether a play can use a small segment of the classic Who’s on First? routine. The first ruling on the Abbott and Costello joint estates’ claim was that the segment was fair use. A Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it wasn’t fair use, but that the copyright has passed into the public domain (the discussion at the link focuses on the convoluted arguments over whether Universal ever held copyright and if so, whether the estates reclaimed it).

•Is “Tiffany” a reference to jewels sold by Tiffany’s, or just a style? A jury rules Costco owes $5.5 million for selling “Tiffany” rings that aren’t from Tiffany’s.

•A site lets you rip YouTube music clips into MP3s. The recording industry sues.

•An artist sues because Kohls allegedly uses her designs without her OK. And the estate of artist Dash Snow charges McDonalds has copied his work illegally.

•Some Louisiana strippers are suing over a law that bars dancers under 21, on the grounds it violates their free speech rights. Not exactly writing related, but First Amendment is close enough.

•A Fox news anchor sued over a toy hamster from Hasbro that shares her name. The case has been dismissed.

•How do you reconnect with a story after taking a break?

•Kristine Kathryn Rusch on satisfying reader expectations.

•US goverment propagandist Guy Sims Fitch never existed.

•Ebook sales are down, audiobook sales are up.

troubles•Good-looking first editions from the 1970s. Don’t know the artist, all rights to cover art belong with current holder.

•I was never completely comfortable with the scene where the Comedian rapes Silk Spectre in Watchmen. I’d come to to think I was an outlier, but I’m not alone.

•Peter Thiel financed lawsuits against Gawker and broke the company. What does that imply about legal risks for freelancers?

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The illegal download is coming from inside the house! (#SFWApro)

Some copyright and media related links for Thursday (title refers to a line from 1979’s When a Stranger Calls).

•Warner Brothers recently demanded Google take down dozens of allegedly infringing websites … including Warner Brothers’ own websites.

•Last year a German company with some aggressive views on copyright demanded a list of takedowns including Skype, Dropbox and Whatsapp.

•Another reminder that archiving online doesn’t guarantee permanence.

•Pirate Joe’s is a Canadian company that buys Trader Joe’s merchandise and sells it at markup north of the border. Trader Joe’s has some issues.

•Mark Zuckerberg insists Facebook is not a media company. Consumerist suggests he’s mistaken.

•A proposed change in European copyright law could require news aggregators such as Google News to pay the media for using their material.

•You may recall the “monkey selfie” dispute over whether a human photographer could claim copyright to pictures a macaque shot with his camera. Another aspect to the dispute is whether the monkey can hold copyright.

•The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other groups have asked the FTC to require labeling locked digital content.

•”He couldn’t see a belt without hitting beneath it” and other classic political insults.

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Free or Not Free, and other writing and copyright topics (#SFWApro)

Ebooks cost authors time and money to publish. The Fussy Librarians site offers free ebooks as a promotion for authors, but points out that if you only read for free, that’s bad news for the writers. Shannon A. Thompson argues that nevertheless free readers are a net gain.

I’m not sure this is even a new issue. For years I lived off what I could buy in used-book stores, which accounts for some of the randomness in my collection. That changes when I have more money to spare than at the moment, but even then spend a lot on discount books—the more expensive it is, the more I want to buy used—and library books. Actual new purchases tend to be few and far between.

•A good article on the problems of writing Y/A bisexuals (hat tip Shannon A. Thompson). For example, if a character ends up with a same-sex or opposite-sex partner, readers often conclude the bi character “really” gay or straight. I’m pretty sure a lot of the issues are applicable to non-Y/A writing.

•Like women, male characters in comics often have absurdly idealized bodies (and more so than they used to—the Hulk in the early Silver Age was much more ordinary physically than he is today). But no, it’s not the same sort of sexual objectification. Hulk, for example, isn’t drawn anywhere near as sex-fantasy as She-Hulk. The link identifies Namor’s lean swimmer’s physique as the only male hero who’s really what women would consider sexy but I think Dick Grayson counts too (I’ll get into that when I review the Grayson series TPBs).

•Now that Charter has merged with Time Warner it thinks it should get some content (Fox News specifically) at Time Warner’s lower rate. Fox disagrees.

•With Matt Damon set to star in the Chinese epic The Great Wall, actor Constance Wu asks why China needs a white guy to save it.

•So the World Fantasy Con has displeased some writers this year with its programming slate: very white male-focused. Foz Meadows puts in historical context as well: Robert Aiken and Arthur Machen got a lot more programming in their anniversary years than horror writer Shirley Jackson is this year (her centennary). She also argues some of the panel descriptions seem clueless about current fantasy.

•A list of bad habits for characters.

•Rebekkah Niles on jewelry-making as a model for writing.

•In a case involving a YouTube video, the poster claims fair use of some incidental background music. Universal, which had it taken down on copyright grounds, argues it shouldn’t have to consider fair use before issuing a warning.

•Citi argues AT&T using “thanks” in a loyalty program catchphrase violates Citi’s own trademarked catchphrase.

•Capitol Records and others are suing Vimeo, charging among other things that Vimeo employees turned a blind eye to pirated material in video postings. A court has ruled that just because employees see a video, that doesn’t mean they must have realized it was pirated.

•Gawker has sold its affiliates sites to Univision in the wake of a lawsuit that broke the camel’s back. A lot of people are discomfited even if they dislike Gawker because businessman Peter Thiel (whom Gawker outed) poured millions of his own money into the lawsuit (by Hulk Hogan)—what’s to stop the same thing from happening to any media site that crosses someone with serious money? LGM points out Thiel’s list of Gawker’s sins focuses on stories involving rich people. The Atlantic looks at the issues.

•Speaking of crappy reporting, don’t tell someone you’re reporting on that their adoptive parents are not really their parents. Outing gay athletes from homophobic nations is even worse.

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Do spoilers violate copyright? And other copywright/trademark links (#SFWApro)

AMC argues that if one fan group goes ahead and releases a big spoiler for The Walking Dead, it violates copyright.

•The Navy allegedly broke copyright by installing a German company’s software on hundreds of computers without paying for it.

•Park City residents are concerned about a local resort’s proposal to trademark the name “Park City” — even though the resort denies it, what if it someday decides to ban other businesses from using the name?

•If Amazon loses the right to stream a video, even a video you’ve bought might disappear.

•A record company sued Vimeo, claiming Vimeo employees saw copyrighted music content on the site and did nothing. A judge has ruled that even if the employees watched the video, that doesn’t mean they could or should recognize the music so the plaintiffs lose.

•Google argues that by restricting search results to exclude “torrent” or “piracy”-named sites, it reduces digital piracy.

•The creator of the Iron Man theme song from the 1960s ‘toon will get his day in court: his suit charging Sony and Ghostface Killah violated his copyright on the song is moving forward.

•The Electronic Freedom Foundation is suing to challenge the legal restrictions on circumventing DRM protections that block copying DVDs and such. The gist of the lawsuit, if I’m following correctly, is that the law unfairly and irrationally restricts copyings that would qualify as fair use.

•Some recording artists aren’t happy versions of their songs were used at the Republican National Convention, but it’s legal.

•Some years back, photographer Carol Highsmith donated thousands of photographs to the Library of Congress to be freely used by the public. According to a lawsuit filed by Highsmith, Getty (one of those pay-for-photo-use websites, which offers some of her photos to customers) allegedly threatened legal action against her for using her own photos without their permission. And Zuma Press is also suing, saying Getty has posted 47,000 images it had no right to.

•McDonalds has been accused of ripping off someone’s animation work.

•In the same vein: what to do if a magazine or website swipes your work, altering it just enough to avoid copyright infringement.

•Stephen Colbert discovered recently that his on-screen personality is the intellectual property of Comedy Network. His response: create the character’s twin brother for a new gig.

•Whole Foods wanted to patent the slogan “world’s healthiest grocery store” but the Patent Office says it won’t fly.

•Proposed changes to copyright law would, for example, require that once a website receives a takedown order for alleged copyright infringement, it would have to see to it nobody reposts the material. Internet Archive says bad idea.

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Journalism, copyright and other writing links (#SFWApro)

The LA Times and Chicago Tribune have been struggling ever since Sam Zell bought them a decade ago (which is a long story). The new bright idea to fix thing: more video reporting.

Layoffs at the International Business Times. Apparently it’s hoping to outsource some of the jobs to India.

•A Ford dealership explains it’s new ad art can’t possibly have violated copyright because it took it from a DMCA-compliant website. As noted at the link, this does not mean “everything on the site is free for use.”

•Mike Huckabee used “eye of the tiger” in a campaign rally. Survivor sued. Huckabee settled for $25,000.

•Xbox fitness users will lose the right to stream fitness videos when Microsoft phases the program out — even videos they’ve paid to own.

•Gail Z. Martin on PTSD in fantasy, and why we should probably see it more often.

•At LGM, Steven Attewell looks at Marvel’s X-men and the mutant as metaphor. As he points out, while mutants are usually interpreted as a race/gay metaphor, Lee and Kirby in the early years seem to treat them as a kind of Red Menace, an enemy lurking among us and plotting to take over (a topic I tackle, though not in relation to the X-Men, in Screen Enemies of the American Way). And in a later Sentinels plotline by Roy Thomas and Neal Adams, the anti-mutant forces are equated with McCarthyism. At the same time, the metaphor is flexible enough that it can bend without breaking to include more explicit racial analogies. Another variation on the theme in a later Attewell column. As Kurt Busiek says, superhumans are an extremely flexible metaphor.

•Here’s an example of er, creative use of history: Nazis invoked Sherman’s march as a warning to occupied Europe what to expect when the Allies landed.

•As it becomes easier for media and social media to follow explorers and adventurers in real-time does that short-change adventurers who are poor with social media?

•Goodreads offers lessons from a romance-writers convention.

•I’m not really bothered if legal dramas don’t get every point accurate. But when a major part of your storyline is a big trial, as in this season’s Daredevil, it’s worth getting your facts right—which the story doesn’t.

Regency-era insults.

•I frequently don’t ask questions like what my female characters carry in their purses.

•Never try to sound hip in your writing when you’re uncool.

•Just a reminder that my collection Philosophy and Fairytales is now on sale for 99 cents! The Earth may crumble into ruin before you see a price this low again (please note that this phrasing is purely for poetry and not a legally binding statement that I will not, in fact, offer another price cut prior to Earth’s ruin).

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